March 10 “Temptation”

Temptation

Righteousness fulfilled and proclaimed in a thundering voice from heaven must be tested to prove its worth.
When Jesus told John that it was necessary for Him to fulfill all righteousness, He meant more than just His baptism in the Jordan. For the next three years of public ministry He would walk this earth in the character of God—truth, integrity, holiness, complete righteousness, and He would touch people with the power of God to heal, deliver, restore and encourage. Such a life could only be lived if Jesus had complete and constant victory over sin.

Into the Wilderness
Jesus did not wander into the wilderness. He was led by the Spirit of God. He may or may not have known He was going to go face-to-face with Satan but He certainly knew the Holy Spirit was leading Him there. One translation even uses the word, “driven” to describe this powerful leadership. Jesus, like other leaders in the nation’s history, fasted and prayed for forty days and nights. Just to make sure we understand, Matthew adds a postscript:

“…afterward He was hungry.”

This was no show of divine force; it was a display of human weakness and strength; strength of will to accomplish such a thing and weakness resulting from the forty day ordeal. Soon angels would minister to Him but first a necessary encounter took place. Satan, the tempter, came to Him. Hoping that the weakness of Jesus’ body had somehow affected His mind, the devil started with a temptation to doubt.

“If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”

A useless ploy! I can almost see Jesus laugh in the devil’s face. He had no doubt who He was! He didn’t need fresh baked stones—He had the everlasting Word of God!

Suddenly they were at the pinnacle of the Temple and Satan tried this one:

“If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down.”

He perverted a promise about angels watching over Him to prevent foot injuries. The sight of the Temple and the impressive grounds did not impress Jesus in the least. He reminded Satan of what a dangerous thing it is to tempt God!

Next they were at the summit of a high mountain where all the kingdoms of the world could be clearly seen. They shimmered in the sun but it was the sun Jesus Himself had created! There was no glory to be had here that He had not already possessed since creation and then laid aside.

“All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”

Jesus was annoyed at this. Worship was for God alone. Hadn’t Lucifer learned that lesson eons ago?

“Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God,
and Him only you shall serve.'”

I can almost see Satan pounding a fist into a hand and walking away with his head shaking. Or maybe he left in a cloud of desert dust and loud noise. We don’t know; all we know is Matthew’s terse report.

“Then the devil left Him…”

Angels could be restrained no longer. They hurried to Jesus’ aid and ministered to Him. Perhaps they served Him manna, angel’s food, to strengthen Him. What a feast!

Three temptations face us all.
The Apostle John informs us that all tempted with three things:

  1. the lust of the flesh,
  2. the lust of the eyes, and
  3. the pride of life.

These are the very things Satan tempted Jesus without success. Today, our victorious Lord shares His triumph with us.

Scriptures:
Matthew 4: 1-11
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'” Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.'” Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'”Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.'” Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.
Hebrews 4:14-16
Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
James 1:12-16
Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren.
1 John 2:15-17
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You went toe-to-toe, face-to-face with Satan and beat him on his own desert ground. Angels stood by ready to help but they were not needed. After 40 days of fasting and prayer Your body was weak but Your mighty Spirit was strong. You answered the temptations of Satan with the Word of God hidden in Your heart. In this You fulfilled the admonition to hide the Word in the heart so that sin can be avoided. Lord, live that strong in me. When Satan sends one or his minions to my door, let me answer him with the Word! Amen and Amen!

Song:
Yield Not to Temptation
Words and Music: Horation R. Palmer

1. Yield not to temptation, For yielding is sin;
Each vict’ry will help you, Some other to win;
Fight valiantly onward, Evil passions subdue;
Look ever to Jesus, He will carry you through.

Refrain:
Ask the Savior to help you,
Comfort, strengthen and keep you;
He is willing to aid you, He will carry you through.

2. Shun evil companions, Bad language disdain;
God’s name hold in rev’rence, Nor take it in vain;
Be thoughtful and earnest, Kindhearted and true;
Look ever to Jesus, He will carry you through.

Refrain

3. To him that o’ercometh, God giveth a crown;
Through faith we will conquer, Though often cast down;
He who is our Savior, Our strength will renew;
Look ever to Jesus, He will carry you through.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

June 9, 2018 “Temptations”

Temptations

Before beginning his account of the ministry of Jesus, Dr. Luke provides us with a genealogy of Jesus through Joseph all the way back to Adam.
The names take on a familiar ring at about the time of King David: Nathan, David, Jesse, Boaz and ending with the Patriarchs, Judah, Jacob, Isaac, Abraham, Noah, and finally to Adam. Such documentation is to be expected from a physician who did his homework. This places the Jesus Story in a universal context.

Led by the Spirit
After Jesus was baptized, the Spirit the Lord led Jesus (Some say He was driven by the Spirit!) into the wilderness. He fasted for 40 days with only the desert creatures for company, except for one unwelcomed companion—Satan himself. The fast and the temptation both lasted 40 days. There was a purpose in all of this:

  • Jesus had to endure temptation at its greatest power in order to completely defeat evil.
  • Jesus had to prove Himself to be the master of Satan. That fallen angel would try his best but would never best the sinless Son of God.
  • We believers in Jesus can appropriate Jesus’ victory over temptation and sin, because Jesus, the Victor, lives within us!

The Temptations
Decades later John, one of the Disciples of Jesus, wrote that temptation came in three varieties:

  1. The lust of the flesh,
  2. The lust of the eyes, and
  3. The pride of life.

These correspond perfectly to the final assault of this 40-day battle when Satan flamed out in defeat.

  • Lust of the flesh. Jesus was very hungry so Satan tempted Him with food. Jesus countered with the Word, true nourishment!
  • Lust of the eyes. Satan took Jesus to a high mountain from which He could see the kingdoms of this world. He offered them to Jesus in exchange for worship. Jesus saw more than the shimmering horizon in this vision—He saw the deception inherent in the lust of the eyes—envy, greed, power, riches ruthlessly gained, and vanity. We must keep our eyes on God and worship Him only.
  • The Pride of Life. Satan took Jesus to the pinnacle of the Temple, the center of the center of the faith. He sought for one hint of pride in Jesus. If you are the Son of God—prove it! He quoted scriptures promising safety when danger came near Messiah. There was not a glimmer of pride in Jesus as He rebuked the old devil for the final time.

Jesus was and is the Victor!

Our Victory
Jesus was in the right place at the right time—fasting and seeking God in the wilderness, preparing for His public ministry. This is a vital key to victory over temptation—stay in the center of God’s will. The sheep that wanders away from the Shepherd is the victim of the roaring lion. Know the Word—know the Word! Know it so well you can quote it in the devil’s ugly face. He has no answer for the Word confessed in faith. In times of temptation, when we quote the Word of God, we can actually feel Satan slinking away.

Scriptures:
Luke: 3:23-38; 4:1-13

Now Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, the son of Heli, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melchi, the son of Janna, the son of Joseph, the son of Mattathiah, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Naggai, the son of Maath, the son of Mattathiah, the son of Semei, the son of Joseph, the son of Judah, the son of Joannas, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri, the son of Melchi, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmodam, the son of Er, the son of Jose, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonan, the son of Eliakim, the son of Melea, the son of Menan, the son of Mattathah, the son of Nathan, the son of David, the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Salmon, the son of Nahshon, the son of Amminadab, the son of Ram, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah, the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor, the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah, the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech, the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalalel, the son of Cainan, the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.
Luke 4
Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry. And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.'” Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.” And Jesus answered and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.'” Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.'” And Jesus answered and said to him, “It has been said, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'” Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.
1 John 2:16-17
For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank for that ordeal in the desert. You did not yield to temptation. You defeated every trick of the enemy and You did it for me! Through You, I can have victory over the lust of the flesh. By Your grace I can have a clear spiritual vision, unclouded by the lust of the eyes. Because Your Spirit lives in me, I can go about in genuine humility, taking the servant’s place in victory because You defeated the Pride of Life. “Victory, yes, victory. Hallelujah! I am free,Jesus gives me victory!” Amen and Amen.

Song:
Victory

Words: Barney E. Warren

1. Hallelujah, what a thought!
Jesus full salvation brought,
Victory, victory;
Let the pow’rs of sin assail,
Heaven’s grace can never fail,
Victory, victory.

Refrain:
Victory, yes, victory.
Hallelujah! I am free,
Jesus gives me victory;
Glory, glory! Hallelujah!
He is all in all to me.

Refrain

2. I am trusting in the Lord,
I am standing on His Word,
Victory, victory;
I have peace and joy within,
Since my life is free from sin,
Victory, victory.

Refrain

3. Shout your freedom everywhere,
His eternal peace declare,
Victory, victory,
Let us sing it here below,
In the face of every foe,
Victory, victory.

Refrain

4. We will sing it on that shore,
When this fleeting life is o’er,
Victory, victory;
Sing it here, ye ransomed throng,
Start the everlasting song:
Victory, victory.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved